Thursday, August 11, 2022

What Can Cause Nerve Pain In The Head

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What Are The Symptoms

Occipital Neuralgia Nerve pain / Neuropathic pain

Patients describe an attack as a burning or jabbing pain, or as an electrical shock that may last a few seconds or minutes. Swallowing, chewing, talking, coughing, yawning or laughing can trigger an attack. Some people describe the feeling of a sharp object lodged in the throat. The pain usually has the following features:

The pain usually has the following features:

  • Affects one side of the throat
  • Can last several days or weeks, followed by a remission for months or years
  • Occurs more frequently over time and may become disabling
  • About 10% of patients also have potentially life-threatening episodes of heart irregularities caused by involvement of the nearby vagus nerve, such as:

    • slow pulse
    • seizures

    Surgical Options For Occipital Neuralgia

    Surgical options include decompression of the greater occipital nerves along their course, called occipital release surgery.

    In this outpatient procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the back of the neck to expose the greater occipital nerves and release them from the surrounding connective tissue and muscles that may be compressing them. The surgeon can address other nerves that may be contributing to the problem, such as the lesser occipital nerves and the dorsal occipital nerves.

    The surgery generally takes around two or three hours and is performed with the patient asleep under general anesthesia. Patients are able to go home the same day, and full recovery is generally expected within one or two weeks.

    In some cases, occipital release surgery only works temporarily, and the pain returns. Further surgery to cut the greater occipital nerves can be performed after about a year, however, this procedure is regarded as a last resort since it would result in permanent scalp numbness.

    How & Why Does Occipital Neuralgia Develop

    Much of the feeling in the back and top of the head is transmitted to the brain by the two occipital nerves, which emerge from the spine in the upper neck and travel to the top of the head.

    Irritation of an occipital nerve anywhere along its course can cause a shooting or stabbing pain in the neck, radiating over the head. Between bouts of shooting pain, there also can be a constant ache. Other symptoms can include dizziness and nausea.

    Symptoms can be mild or severe in and could include the following:

    • Shooting or stabbing pain in the neck radiating over the head
    • Constant headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea

    Occipital neuralgia is the neck/head pain that results from injury or irritation to the occipital nerves. It can be caused by trauma, such as a car accident, by a pinched nerve root in the neck or by tight muscles at the back of the head that entrap the nerves.

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    Head & Neck Pain Treatment

    Patients with occipital neuralgia can go undiagnosed and suffer for many years because symptoms can mimic more common headaches such as migraines. However, this condition requires a very specific treatment plan, making an accurate diagnosis essential for pain relief. Once diagnosed, occipital neuralgia typically responds well to treatment. A board-certified pain physician can offer you the most advanced non-surgical options available, enabling you to return to an active lifestyle.

    Contact National Spine & Pain Centers toschedule an appointment with an affiliated pain specialist for Occipital Neuralgia treatment today.

    What Causes Neuropathic Pain

    Head, neck, facial pain known as Craniofacial Pain Syndrome

    Common causes of neuropathic pain include nerve pressure or nerve damage after surgery or trauma, viral infections, cancer, vascular malformations, alcoholism, neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and metabolic conditions such as diabetes. It may also be a side effect of certain medications. Occasionally no identifiable cause is found which can be distressing for the individual experiencing the pain.

    Chronic neuropathic pain is common and may be related to an underlying health condition such as cancer or diabetic neuropathy, or it could be related to treatments such as chemotherapy.

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    Where Can I Get More Information

    For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:

    Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892

    NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.

    All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

    Common Symptoms Of Occipital Neuralgia

    You may experience occipital neuralgia symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times, any of these symptoms can be severe:

    • Numbness or loss of function in the back of your head, scalp or neck

    • Pain if you touch the back of your head, scalp or neck, or if you move or press down on the affected area

    • Pain that you would describe as a stabbing or burning feeling in the back of your head, scalp or neck

    • Sensitivity to touch

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    Can Toothache Cause Shooting Pain In Head

    There is one of the largest nerves in the head that is responsible for detecting headaches and toothaches. In the event of a toothache, the trigeminal nerve provides sensation to most of your face, including your teeth and gums. When you experience a migraine headache, the trigeminal nerve can become irritated.

    Other Conditions And Causes

    Treating Nerve Pain in the Back, Neck and Legs

    Other conditions lead to tingling symptoms in patients are:

    • Bells palsy isa paralysis or weakness of one side of the face brought on by infection or autoimmune disease that also causes drooping around the eye and mouth.
    • High blood pressure can cause microvascular cranial nerve palsy, in which blood flow to nerves is disrupted.
    • Tumors or vascular lesions in the spine or brain can also compress nerves, causing symptoms.
    • Hypothyroidism, which is insufficient activity of the thyroid gland, can affect nerve function, cause pain and numbness.
    • Deficiency in vitamin B12can also impact the nerves and cause tingling.
    • Poor posture can cause compression of nerves in the neck and back of the head.
    • Electrolyte imbalances, elevated or depleted levels of important minerals like calcium, potassium, and sodium, may also cause neuropathy.

    Read Also: Autonomic Cephalalgia

    When To See Your Doctor

    Usually, headaches arent serious and you can often treat them yourself. But sometimes, they can signal a more serious problem.

    • The pain feels like the worst headache of your life.
    • Youve had a change in the pattern of your headaches.
    • Headaches wake you up at night.
    • The headache started after a blow to the head.

    You should also see your doctor if youre experiencing any of these symptoms alongside your headache:

    • confusion

    You can book a primary care doctor in your area using our Healthline FindCare tool.

    Nerve Inflammation Can Trigger Neuralgia

    • Shingles inflammation of a nerve, caused by infection with the herpes virus. This common type of neuralgia is known as post-herpetic neuralgia. The pain may remain long after the shingles rash has disappeared, particularly in areas of the face
    • Infection the nerve can be irritated by nearby infection, such as a tooth abscess
    • Pressure or injury broken bones, slipped vertebral discs or certain tumours can press and irritate a nerve
    • Syphilis in its advanced stages, this sexually transmitted disease affects the functioning of the nervous system.

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    What Is The Outlook For People With Neuropathic Pain

    Neuropathic pain is difficult to treat completely but is usually not life-threatening. Youll get the best results from combining rehabilitation with support for your emotional, social and mental wellbeing. You will be able to manage your pain to a level that improves your quality of life with the help of a pain specialist in using some or most of the methods mentioned above.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/07/2020.


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  • Pain along the neck where it meets the skull, as well as pain along the back of the head and neck people with occipital neuralgia usually have.

    • The pain might be one-sided or bilateral .
    • The pain might be sharp or stabbing, or feel like an electric shock along the nerve.
    • Sometimes the pain is a dull aching or throbbing.
    • The pain often can travel along the side of the head, sometimes as far forward as the forehead.
    • There can be some symptoms that are frequently seen with migraine headache or other headaches, including sensitivity to light or sound, or scalp tenderness.
    • People with an occipital neuralgia headache may have increased pain when moving their neck.

    If the pain caused by occipital neuralgia travels along the side of the head to the face, it might initially be mistaken for a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia . However, physical examination and assessment of the history of the pain should reveal important differences that will help lead to the correct diagnosis.

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    How Is A Diagnosis Made

    When a person first experiences throat pain, a primary care doctor or dentist is often consulted. If the pain requires further evaluation, a neurologist or a neurosurgeon may be recommended.

    The diagnosis of neuralgia is made after carefully assessing the patient’s symptoms. If glossopharyngeal neuralgia is suspected, the doctor will attempt to trigger an episode by touching the back of the throat with a swab. If that causes pain, a topical anesthetic is applied to the back of the throat and the doctor will try the pain stimulus again. If pain is not triggered while the area is numb, glossopharyngeal neuralgia is diagnosed.

    Other tests may include an MRI or MRA to look for tumors or a blood vessel compressing the nerve.

    Bacterial And Viral Infections

    Certain bacterial and viral infections can also lead to tingling in the head and face. This can accompany encephalitis, a bacterial infection that causes swelling of the brain.

    Symptoms also arise in cases of transverse myelination, a rare condition that causes inflammation in the spine. Most cases of TM arise are due to viral and bacterial infections, including:

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    Possible Headache Conditions Associated With Uhnp

    The International Classification of Headache Disorders offers several conditions that may be associated with UHNP, including CM, CTTH, New Daily Persistent Headache , and Hemicrania Continua , however, many patients with unremitting head and neck pain do not meet the criteria for any of these conditions. Patients with UHNP, for example, may not present with the abrupt onset of pain required for NDPH, nor with the strictly unilateral, indomethacin-responsive pain required for HC. Likewise, many patients with UHNP do not have pain that is the bilateral, mild-moderate intensity pain required for the diagnosis of CTTH, and many have pain that does not fully meet CM criteria, for instance, lacking the required minimum of 8 days per month of nausea and photophobia.

    Critical in UHNP is the involvement of the neck. Neck pain is common in CTTH and migraine , and the presence of chronic neck pain may in fact convey a particular clinical significance. The combined symptoms of CTTH, neck pain and migraine are not only common, representing 67% of patients with migraine evaluated in a tertiary headache clinic , but also convey a higher level of severity: these patients are the most afflicted, with the lowest rates of physical activity and psychological well-being and with higher levels of perceived stress . Additionally, the presence of neck pain has been shown to correlate with increasing frequency of headaches .

    Can Teeth Grinding Cause Facial Nerve Pain

    Quick Headache Relief (Neck Pain & Pinched Nerve) – Dr Mandell

    You can cause radiant tension, spasm, and inflammation when you grind your teeth or have a misalignment in your TMJ. There is also a neurological condition called trigeminal neuralgia that can be caused by TMJ and Bruxism. There is no doubt that your trigeminal nerve is the largest nerve in your head.

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    Why Does My Neck Pain Cause Headaches

    Understanding how these issues are connected makes it easier to see how to help headaches from neck pain. Your neck and head are closely related, so it should be no surprise that a pain in the neck can also cause a headache. The connection between the two depends largely on the cause of your neck pain and the type of headaches you experience.

    What Are The Causes

    Many believe that the protective sheath of the nerve deteriorates, sending abnormal messages. Like static in a telephone line, these abnormalities disrupt the normal signal of the nerve and cause pain. Most often the damage is from a blood vessel compressing the nerve. Other causes include aging, multiple sclerosis, and nearby tumors.

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    What Is Trigeminal Neuralgia

    Trigeminal neuralgia , also called tic douloureux, is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal or 5th cranial nerve, one of the most widely distributed nerves in the head. TN is a form of neuropathic pain The typical or “classic” form of the disorder causes extreme, sporadic, sudden burning or shock-like facial pain that lasts anywhere from a few seconds to as long as two minutes per episode. These attacks can occur in quick succession, in volleys lasting as long as two hours. The atypical form of the disorder , is characterized by constant aching, burning, stabbing pain of somewhat lower intensity than Type 1. Both forms of pain may occur in the same person, sometimes at the same time. The intensity of pain can be physically and mentally incapacitating.

    What Are Common Cranial Nerve Pain Symptoms

    Shooting Jaw Pain (Trigeminal Neuralgia)

    Cranial nerve pain symptoms can vary depending on the patient and a variety of other factors. The most common symptoms include burning or stabbing pain. Pain can feel like an electric shock, or it may start as a tingling sensation across the face, neck, head, and shoulders. For some patients, pain becomes a dull, nearly constant ache. Cranial nerve pain sufferers may also feel pain inside their mouth. This can make eating and drinking unpleasant at best.

    These painful episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to several hours. The smallest things in particular can trigger trigeminal nerve pain, such as:

    • A light breeze
    • Changes to the weather
    • Talking

    These everyday activities are impossible to avoid for most people, which makes pain unpredictable. It is difficult to go about your regular activities if you cannot predict when the slightest facial movement will bring you to your knees. Thats why finding treatments that work to reduce your symptoms is so important.

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    What Causes Occipital Neuralgia

    Occipital neuralgia is most commonly caused by pinched nerves in the root of a persons neck. Sometimes this is caused by muscles that are too tight in a persons neck. In some cases, it can be caused by a head or neck injury. Chronic neck tension is another common cause.

    Other conditions that can lead or contribute to causes of occipital neuralgia include:

    • osteoarthritis, especially of the upper cervical spine, which can pinch nerves
    • tumors affecting nerve roots
    • gout
    • infection

    Individual attacks or episodes of occipital neuralgia can occur seemingly spontaneously, or be triggered by a light touch.

    The 5 False Facts Your Doctor Mistakenly Promotes Can Bad Posture Cause Nerve Pain In The Head

    The medical community is largely responsible for this misinformation being passed on to the suffering patient. In my view it is the job and responsibility of the family doctor to teach the patient about their neuropathy problem. It is also the doctors job to train the patient in what they can do to improve and manage their neuropathy case successfully.

    ===> How To End Peripheral Neuropathy < < <

    Many neuropathy patients, suffering with foot or hand pain, tingling, numbness, burning, and other evasive and hard to describe neuropathy symptoms, dont even know the name of their condition! And while others do, that is essentially all they know. With this in mind I want to address some of the most commonly INCORRECT facts that suffering neuropathy patients have been told, or come to understand, due to the lack of patient education by the medical community.

    1. Neuropathy comes with age, and there is nothing you can do about it.This statement is only partially correct, inasmuch as aging can contribute to the increased onset and intensity of the neuropathy condition. There are however, many simple techniques and procedures that any person can learn which will offset many of these effects of aging as they relate to peripheral neuropathy.

    4. Neuropathy just gets worse with time, and you have to accept that you are stuck with it.

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    Tips To Relieve Headaches From Neck Pain

    After youve figured out the cause of your neck pain and headaches, there are things you can do at home to help ease the pain and start to feel better. Heres how to relieve headaches caused by neck pain:

    1. Improve Workplace Ergonomics

    Adjusting how you work is good for preventing headaches caused by pain in the neck. How you sit at work can put strain and pressure on your neck. If possible, adjust the height of your monitor so you are looking directly at it rather than up or down.

    If you sit, choose a chair that is the appropriate height for you. Your feet should rest flat on the floor when you sit, and your knees should be a few inches from the edge of the chair. If you have to look down at paperwork while on the job, consider getting a stand to hold the documents at eye level so you arent constantly bending your neck.

    2. Improve Your Posture

    Your posture has a significant effect on how your neck feels. If you regularly slouch, you put a lot of extra weight on the head and neck, leading to pain and discomfort.

    The first step toward improving your posture is becoming aware of it. When you stand, notice the angle of your back, neck and shoulders. Try to stand up as tall and straight as possible. That means pulling in your stomach and pushing your shoulders back slightly. Your head should be level as if you are balancing a book on it.

    3. Improve Your Sleep

    4. Exercise More

    5. Schedule a Massage

    6. Manage Your Stress

    7. Try Heat and Cold

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